Strong start on the court shows great improvement
Nolan Potts, ‘Doah Staff Writer
January 15, 2014
In Rob Pryor’s first two seasons as the head coach of the Shenandoah University’s men’s basketball team, the team won a grand total of nine games in 53 total contests, with one of them coming by forfeit. In the ODAC Preseason poll this year, the Hornets were picked to finish dead last in the standings. What they’ve been able to accomplish up to this point in the season has surprised a lot of people.
The men already have as many wins this season as they did the previous two seasons combined as they have raced out to a 9-3 start, including 2-2 in ODAC games. Their victory over Emory & Henry on Jan. 4 was the team’s first ODAC win that didn’t come by forfeit. To put this great start into perspective, even if they were to lose the rest of their games, it would still be the most successful season in terms of victories since the 2009-2010 season when the team’s record was 11-16. Even in the games the men haven’t won, they’ve been very competitive. In their three losses, the Hornets have only lost by eight points, 11 points and one point respectively in those games.
One of the reasons the Hornets have been able to get off to such a good start is the play of Avery Green. After being limited to only nine games and 9.9 points per game last year, the senior from Fredericksburg, Virginia is averaging 24.6 points per game, which is in the top ten of all D3 schools in the country. He’s scored at least 17 points in each of the team’s first 12 games, including a 37-point effort against Mary Washington on Nov. 23 and a 30-point game against Penn State-Altoona on January 6. He’s also scored his points efficiently, as he’s shooting 53.5% from the field and 73.7% from the free throw line. He’s also just eclipsed 1,000 points for his career at Shenandoah in an 82-67 victory game against Roanoke on January 11, setting his place in school history.
Basketball is a team game, and although Green has gotten most of the headlines so far, the team has been outstanding as a whole. On the offensive side of the ball, the team is number two in the conference in turnovers per game, meaning they’ve taken very good control of the ball and haven’t wasted many possessions. Where the Hornets have made the most improvement is on the defensive end of the court. For example, last year the team allowed the third most points per game in the ODAC, but so far this year, they are allowing the third fewest points per game. They’re currently fourth in steals per game, fifth in blocks per game and second in opponents’ field goal percentage and opponents’ three point percentage. Green leads the team in steals (2.4 per game), but six other players are averaging at least one steal per game.
Besides Green, junior Jared Carithers is the only other player that averages over ten points per game. The guard from Bowie, Maryland is averaging 18.4 points per game through 12 games. He had 24 points in a win over Emory & Henry on Jan. 4th and 32 points in another ODAC victory over Roanoke on Jan. 11. Junior Xavier Alston (6.0 per game) and senior Kevin Lecsaint (5.4 per game) lead the team in rebounding. Coach Pryor has been able to split playing time between the players very effectively throughout the early part of the season. Of the 20 men on the roster for this semester, eight of them average at least 16 minutes per game, and four more average at least eight minutes per game. Having a large roster has allowed Coach Pryor to give guys more rest, which will help keep them fresh as the season progresses.
The Hornets are at home again on January 15 in an ODAC contest against Randolph-Macon at 8:00 p.m., and again on Jan. 22 against conference rival Bridgewater at 7:00 p.m. Home teams feed off the energy of their crowd, so come out to a game when you get an opportunity. The more people that are inside Shingleton, the better the chance is of the Hornets coming away with a victory.